NEPTUNE, New Jersey (WABC) -- A family's excitement over a new puppy quickly turned to despair when the dog died just a few days later. Now, the buyers say they were sold a sick dog, under false pretenses.
"I was helpless. I felt so much anger" Alicia Vacchiano says her Havanese poodle mix puppy, Gizmo, died just 6 days after they bought him. "He died in my arms."
Last May, Alicia saw "Havapoo" puppies for sale on Craigslist, complete with a health certificate from a local vet. She says the seller insisted on bringing the puppies to her.
"2 guys came one stayed in the car, one did the transaction," said Alicia.
She paid $500 cash. But 2 days later, he took got sick, taking turn for the worse. They rushed Gizmo to the animal hospital. But gizmo never got better.
They buried the 8 week old pup and texted the seller, since the sales agreement states within 14 days of sale if the animal's unfit, the buyer's entitled to a replacement.
"He never answered me after the dog died," said Alicia.
So we investigated, visiting the vet whose signature is on Gizmo's health certificate. But the vet told me he never saw Gizmo, saying the health certificate we were given was a forgery.
After the seller wouldn't return our calls, we went looking for him. We found the sellers brother, who said the health certificate wasn't forged. But even though he only drove the puppy to be delivered, he still agreed to refund Alicia on his brother's behalf.
"I'll give her back what she paid for the puppy, I have no problem with that."
Alicia got her refund, $500 and her son got a new dog. "I didn't think this was going to happen," said Alicia. "Thank you so much."
The dog seller told us he changed his cellphone and never knew the puppy died but was deeply sorry.
The big takeaway. Be VERY wary before buying pets off Craigslist or the internet. There are little to no regulations if there's a problem.
Insist on a health certificate and call the vet to authenticate.
If you buy an animal from a pet shop - you'll have 2 weeks from purchase date to get a refund or replacement if it gets sick.